A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery for United States Marine First Sergeant George H. Humphrey. This service was unlike others I had attended.
On September 15, 1918, Humphrey participated in the first U.S.-led offensive of WWI under the command of General John J. Pershing. The battle with the Germans became known as the St. Mihiel Offensive. There were 7,000 Allied losses during this offensive and it was the first time the American term “D-Day” was used and it was the first time tanks were used by American units.
Humphrey, a member of the U.S. 6th Marine Regiment, attached to the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, was killed in action during the battle and his remains were buried by fellow Marines the next day. In October 1919, a Marine who witnessed the death wrote a letter to Humphrey’s brother recounting the attack near the village of Rembercourt, France. He included a map of his recollection of the burial site.
Attempts to locate Humphrey’s remains by U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel following the war were unsuccessful. In September 2009, French nationals hunting for war relics found artifacts near Rembercourt-sur-Mad they believed to be those of a World War I American soldier. A month later, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command excavated the area, recovering human remains and military-related items including a marksman’s badge with Humphrey’s name engraved on the back.
Ninety-two years later, First Sergeant Humphrey was given a final resting place at Arlington.
I cant begin to describe the feeling of being a part of this ceremony. Our Nation’s commitment to it’s service members is timeless and I’m honored to be a part of it.